Not so different after all

Today’s tseva adom (at least the most recent one) occurred in a way that is becoming all too frequent lately. The alert sounded almost at the same time as the ‘boom.’ In other words, no fifteen seconds to run for safety, or ten or five. Maybe two.

It is a little unnerving to know that we might just get the alert in time to know what killed us. I do understand: we are very close to the border, and the system has to have time to register a launch, calculate its trajectory, and so on. Still, it is less than reassuring.

I’ve been enjoying a quiet day. Got a visit from someone who does acupuncture, who is helping me to (among other things) get my blood sugar down, and deal with various pains and problems I have as a result of having M.S., and as a result of spending far too much time in bed as a result of the M.S.

It isn’t hard to get medical and health care people to do home visits despite the bombs falling, something that I find really marvelous. I just wouldn’t have expected it. Of course I grew up someplace where there haven’t been bombs, rockets or fighting in living memory. It is sometimes a bit strange to think about how far I’ve come from my life in the U.S.

I certainly didn’t intend to move here, so close to Gaza and all this danger – but that was because of the desert. Having always and only lived in the northern part of the northern hemisphere, the so-called ‘temperate’ zone, I didn’t think I could and didn’t want to live in a ‘true desert.’ Obviously time has proved that I can, and even if I didn’t want to, now that I’m here I don’t want to leave. I do miss naturally running water, though.

When I was up north yesterday picking up my son, I was looking at the green hillsides and thinking how much I would like to live in that sort of terrain. But not – to leave what has become my home, where my family lives, and as kids move out and marry, the family extends but in this area.

Granted Israel isn’t that large. When we lived in the American midwest we didn’t think anything of throwing ourselves in the car and driving four hours to visit my husband’s uncle. I suppose if I still lived in the midwest I would have the midwesterner’s view to distances. But my world has gotten smaller, and much more intimate. Driving the approximately 2.5 hours to pick up my son was a stretch, one I wouldn’t do unthinkingly, or often.

I have to say it is amazing how much better youngest son looks after spending a bunch of time away from the rockets, and where he can sleep. I am so grateful for my friends Tzvia and Elisa for opening their homes to my son. I know it isn’t easy. I have other friends who have offered and I guess if we decide he needs another break, we’ll send him to a new place – seeing Israel a little bit at a time. 😉

Well, I’m going to get back to knitting – it’s going well today. It was interrupted by the latest tseva adom, so I took advantage of the break to type something. You just never know … you never know when the next rocket will come, when the next boom will jar you out of a reverie, when the next attack will hurt or kill someone, maybe even someone you love.

It’s like life in general, but much more immediate, much more intense.

Sometimes what is most surprizing about living in a war zone is the ways in which it isn’t different at all.

And for a change of pace, Ebola

It’s after midnight and my eyes are burning, but I didn’t want to let a day pass without writing something. It was a long, weary day, but with the award of having youngest son back home with us.

It wasn’t really easy deciding to bring him home, particularly after the very exciting night we had. There were repeated booms which shook the house, and one that was so big it was beyond startling. Then there was the crack-of-dawn tseva adom. For some reason they shoot the rockets at us generally just as the bats are bedding down for the day. My middle son, who lives and works in Sderot, says that the rockets there have all been coming while he is at work. It isn’t significant of anything, but it is curious.

Anyway, The Husband had to go in to work, and the office is in Hod HaSharon. It seemed as long as he would be driving more than halfway there, I could then drive the rest of the way to pick up youngest son, and save having to take a separate trip at the end of the week. Then, too, tomorrow night the folk club meets in Sderot, and I know that youngest son was wanting to sing there. It all pointed to bringing him home today, even though the indications were not good of him getting good sleep here.

When the metapelet showed up, we hurried getting me bathed and dressed, and out the door with TH. Now, I may not be able to walk, I may not even be able to stand, but I can almost *always* drive. It doesn’t require the same kind of balance, and my body is nicely held in place by the bucket seat and the seatbelt, so I’ve no worries of falling over. I can’t drive stick shift any longer, which is sad, but my right leg generally works well enough to handle the pedals.

In fact I fantasized as I was driving the last leg of the trip by myself about what, if anything, I could do that would be useful or helpful during an emergency. And what I could do, if it was needed, was to drive. I can drive a car, a truck, a bus. I can keep the wheels moving and transport people, supplies, whatever. Just don’t expect me to get out of the car. I was fantasizing about accommodations that might allow me to drive non-stop in whatever fantastical emergency might require such sustained driving – no need to get graphic, but I was thinking about physical needs and how they could be met. Anyway, it was a pleasing fantasy in that in it I was actually able to do things to help other people. Not something I have so much opportunity to do.

I hear and read about other people bringing the soldiers supplies, water, baking pizzas for them and so on, and I wish that I could do something, anything, participate in this huge outpouring of support. After all, it’s not like they are far away. But soon enough I return to reality in which driving an hour one way to pick up my son to bring him back to the more immediate war zone is about what I can accomplish.

I did get a bit of knitting done in the car while TH was driving. I’m working on yet another blanket for yet another grand-kid. Not actually one of mine, but my grandkids’ half-sister.

There is a point where writing about the various booms, rockets, interceptions, tsevei adom, and so on is simply repetitive. The rocket alerts still send us running for the ‘shelter’ of the hall, but I think more often the feeling is irritation rather than fear. The big guns fire, the house rattles, it is all just more of the same. It seems as if the drama has gone out of the war and it becomes one big slog. Everything takes longer. We are all doing everything as if we were under-water, or sleep-walking.

My oldest son is working, making money. My daughter in the army is the most affected, both because she is more involved in what is going on, and because of all of us she is the only one who can’t get away from it, even for one night. The Husband doesn’t remember what it is like not to be tired. And of course the several hours spent in the car today didn’t add to my feelings of being capable and having anything going on.

In fact life during this war has become just normal life with a whole lot more tired, and a lot more noise. Of course the various tragedies of the injured and the dead, the places damaged and homes destroyed don’t get old precisely. It’s more random. I might read three or six reports, and for some reason the next one hits me particularly hard and the tears come to my eyes. And then the next, and the next.

Eventually I can’t read the news reports any more. In fact last night I desperately needed a break but couldn’t bear to switch to the light fluff that generally entertains, so instead I spent a quarter hour catching up on the Ebola situation.

On that note I think it is time for me to stop, shut my eyes, and try to get some sleep. Tomorrow is another way to exhausting day. Hopefully with some fun at the end of it, but I’ve no clue from this end what I will be up to.

I have to fall asleep now so that I will be able to get up for the early-morning tseva adom. 🙂 Good night, all.

Some thoughts on a grey morning after a bad night

I just woke up (again), having been woken up at 6:30 by the cat, and now it is after noon. It was a bad night, a whole lot of booming going on. The big guns fired, the house shook. Sometimes I jumped and then had to wind down again to try and sleep. No rocket fired at us at least. We must be grateful for what we get.

I’ve taken the unprecedented step, for me, of cutting ties to people and places where I don’t feel like I can be myself. I’ve always prided myself on maintaining relationships with people who have different opinions, political leanings, religions and lifestyles from myself. I don’t only listen to or hang around with the people who agree with me. I like to try to see all sides of a story.

I’ve got to stop that now. We may all be equal in HaShem’s eyes, but I have to put myself, my family, my neighbours first. It is up to me to care about my people before I try to take care of others, just like it is up to me to take care of myself before I try to take care of my children, my family, my friends and neighbours. If I don’t make sure that I have enough to eat, drink, get enough sleep, have decent health (relative to the M.S., which has a mind of its own), then how can I feed kids, bathe critters, listen to others and give what help I can to their needs, their hurts? I can’t.

And so now I am finding that I have another level of learning that you simply can’t love and care for everyone equally, and certainly not more than one loves and cares for oneself and one’s own. While it might be okay in some circumstances to take the food out of one’s own mouth to give to the hungry, it is certainly not okay to take it out of one’s children’s mouths. Parents are supposed to take care of their kids. Any parent who did that would be considered a bad parent.

Well what about people who want to kill my kids? Isn’t it more important that I protect my children, first? It’s not that I don’t care. Not that I don’t worry about the other children suffering. But my kids come first. That is how it must be, how it is supposed to be, how we human beings are wired. I don’t go take care of other people’s kids and rely on ‘the state’ or ‘the community’ to look after mine. While I might entrust my kids to someone else (a babysitter, or daycare, or even government schools) it is still *my* responsibility to look out for them, and I cannot count on anyone else to do it for me – or, with as much motivation as I have.

Now there *are* bad parents. We all know that. There are parents who don’t look after their kids, and there are parents who abandon their kids to go do ‘good’ for strangers, for people on the other side of the world. And what does that make them. Does all the good done in some other country, or for some other group make them good parents? Does it make their kids feel better to know that their saintly parents are off saving somebody else? Oh, please.

I had bad parents. So it goes. If I learned nothing else, I learned that there is no replacement for bad parents. No teacher, aunt, babysitter, or foster home takes away the fact that one’s parents didn’t, couldn’t, and/or wouldn’t take proper care of you. In fact, didn’t love you enough. It is not fixable.

I’ve have spent my entire adult life trying to be a good parent, trying to take the lessons that I learned in childhood and turn them around. I think most people would agree I’ve done a pretty good job. Whatever my shortcomings as a mother (and trust me, we all have them) not one of my kids would ever doubt that I love them enough.

So, I’ve wandered off the path a bit here, but I believe it is important. One’s relationships with one’s closest relations are the most important. If they are broken, damaged, missing, that doesn’t make them unimportant. It affects people for all of their lives.

Now I am in an extreme situation. It isn’t one of taking care of somebody else’s kids to the detriment of my own, it is the situation of having to kill somebody else’s kids in order to protect my own.

We can argue if that is the actual facts of the situation or not – I don’t care about that right now. However, if that is the situation, then I, and my family, and my friends, and my country have one overriding obligation and that is to take care of our own.

Right?

We can feel great grief for the other side’s children and great sadness that we are in this position, but what we cannot do is give up the responsibility to care for our kids.

That is the lesson I wish someone would teach to President Obama. Assuming he is even capable of understanding such a simple thought. Anybody who wants us to worry more about what he thinks, or what other people think, than about the safety of *our* children deserves to be at the very least ignored.

Once we are safe, once we are secure, then we can worry about other people’s security and safety, we can help others to achieve what we have gotten for ourselves.

Why is this so hard?

And so the guns keep booming and every now and then there is a shock wave from a concussion (I assume a tunnel being collapsed, but that I can’t tell from here), and I think – not that I want it to be over (I do, I do) but that I want them to finish the job. Please HaShem, Bibi, let them finish the job, so my children can sleep safely at night.

My youngest son is still away, and I miss him. I have two children living at home with me now, and two living in Sderot. All of them deserve to be safe in their homes, or walking to the bus, or going for a run. All of them deserve to know that when push comes to shove, their people are on their side.

What’s good

Two days later. Two incredibly full and busy days in which rockets fell, guns fired, and life went on. Life goes on. I am not sure what more I have to say. Anyone who knows what it is like doesn’t need my little attempts at describing the indescribable. Those who don’t, won’t ever understand, not really.

Ours is a small war. It involves a few miles of border, only a few millions of people are affected really. Lots of people play that it affects them, but it really doesn’t.

I’m still stunned that people who can’t even find Israel properly on a map have the unmitigated gall to act superior and judgmental – to pass judgment on how we live and our right to be here. Those same people couldn’t tell you where Gaza is in the world, or what countries actually border Israel, or Gaza. But they know who is right and who is not!

I read something interesting from a fellow who lives in a Muslim country – a fairly peaceful one, which doesn’t end up in the news very often. He was making some very logical points that seemed to show how Israel is lying and justifying it’s aggression through blaming the victims – those poor Palestinians. You know, the ones who just can’t help themselves from kidnapping and murdering children, and launching rockets against us, the aggressors.

It was very sad, because everything that he said made a certain logical sense – if you don’t have any actual knowledge of the situation here, the facts as they have unfolded. For instance, he thinks that the IDF is making up the stories about the ‘terror tunnels’ (as they are now calling them – terrible name), because he thinks if they had tunnels then why would they stand on the other side of the border launching rockets? Why wouldn’t they come into Israel to attack us?

It makes a certain kind of sense. I wonder if anyone will ever tell him that there were plans to use those tunnels – plans to launch a terrible attack on Rosh HaShanah, intending to kill hundreds or thousands of innocent people whose only crime is to be Jewish? Not soldiers, but people like myself, who happens to live in a crumbling forty-year-old cinder-block house in a small agricultural community – that happens to be less than 5km from where a bunch of murderous arab-muslims live.

I wonder if he ever heard that if he would believe it? if he would be appalled by it? if he would cheer the very proper intentions of those on the front lines of the Arab-Muslim war against the Jews and the state of Israel? He doesn’t sound hate-filled or irrational. His news sources are incomplete and severely biased is all. He has access to the internet, clearly, and equally clearly he seeks out those things that agree with his view of the world. As do I. As do all of us.

The thing that I cling to against all else is that – if we stopped shooting, we would be dead. If they stopped shooting, the war would be over. It is really that simple – all causes and historical justifications notwithstanding.

I am sorry to have brought in religious/political stuff in what was basically supposed to be a blog about what it is like to live in a war zone – in THIS war zone. But any such blog would not be complete without the part where I cannot turn on the television or radio, look at a newspaper or log on to facebook without seeing and reading such horrible lies about us, about the war, about the situation in Gaza. I really wish people could come here and see, for real. I wish people could come here and see the people of Gaza being treated by Israeli doctors, living in comfortable homes, watching first run movies. I really wish they could see the difference between a state that is really, truly ‘apartheid,’ meaning that they do not allow anyone different in the place that they control; and a state that accommodates more religious, racial, and language differences than most countries many times its size.

What it is like to know that you are basically alone.

Eh, forget all of that. It is a waste of time. And of course everyone always believes that their side is on the side of right, and good; don’t they?

It is a quiet day so far. No rockets yet, and only a few really big bangs from the artillery. I sent my youngest son away to a friend in the north because we were afraid that it would be really bad again, but so far it is not. I figure he can stay up there for a while longer, though. I never want him to look as he did before we finally sent him off to friends last week. At least he got some sleep. I want to be sure that things are at least quiet enough for sleep.

The house is very quiet now, with only The Husband and I and the critters here. We are now in the state of nerves where nothing is happening, but we can’t relax because you never know. In some ways this is harder than when the rockets are coming, when the big guns are firing. So quiet and peaceful, and I jump at every little surge of the air conditioner or when the dogs start barking.

Obviously I pray that this peacefulness continues, but I also really hope that, as long as they have begun, the IDF finishes the job they started to do. It is important not to give in to pressure from the U.S. and Turkey. It is important to make sure that our borders are as safe as we can make them.

I am afraid for myself and my family, for my community and my country. But maybe I’m the lucky one – at least I never take any of that for granted. My wish is that everyone can appreciate what they have and what is good in their lives today.

Crazy Ol’ World

Oh, man, bad night. Was pleasant to wake up to a cease-fire. First time the big guns have been silent in weeks. It was a little bit surreal.

Unfortunately it didn’t help us overmuch. So much stress has been built up, and we can’t trust the bloody cease-fire. Never know when a rocket will come in. We’ve been through cease-fires before. It’s a bit of a joke – a cease-fire means that we/Israel stops firing.

Anyway, it WAS a quiet day, thank goodness. All of us are stressed beyond belief, but felt a bit better at the end of the day than at the beginning.

I probably feel a bit better in part because I lost it and went off in a couple of directions. Not saying anything mean or hurtful, saying things that I really believe but ordinarily would keep under my hat. Getting angry about something appropriate and expressing my anger was somewhat cathartic. I can’t express my anger about the war, the bombing, the fear, the uncertainty, the lies, in any way that makes me feel better. I can and will bite your nose off if you get in my face and diss me. So for the foreseeable future – it’s better not to mess with me.

It was nice in a way having us all here, but it did add a bit to the stress and mess. Too many people, people tripping over each other, people getting in one-another’s way was something we none of us were able to cope with. Well, I say that, but we DID cope. Just felt rotten at various times for various reasons.

Youngest son was glad to be home, but despite a week away from the bombs, was still on uncertain emotional ground. Youngest daughter, so stressed and sleep deprived working in the army had no cope for anything.

Older daughter helped by practicing some of the therapeutic techniques she’s been learning on family members. I haven’t been getting adequate personal care and as a result have a bit of an infection. Nothing life-threatening, but painful and making life more difficult. One thing that my older daughter did was help me to do some exercises in bed. Here’s hoping it makes a difference in my functioning over time, it sure helped today.

The bombs and the booms are going strong again now. I’ve two critters on my bed, and I have my doubts I’ll be able to thread my legs between them to get into bed and get some sleep. If the booms get to be too much, though, the dog will go under the bed, and then there will be adequate room for me. It all sort of works out.

Sending youngest son away again tomorrow. I don’t want to, but I know it is the right thing to do. I hope he will be happy or at least comfortable. The friend I am sending him to is one of the best, kindest people I know and I know if it is in her power she will make him happy there. Oldest son is going with him to make sure he is settled there, and then will come back. I will fret. Of course I will. Also, while the two boys are gone it will be much harder taking care of the critters. And laundry. And dishes. I doubt there will be a large enough reduction in housework to make up for their absence.

All sorts of things to think and worry about, and in the midst of all this I have to start the paperwork to sue b’tuach leumi (the national insurance) for an appropriate recognition of my disability. I’m sure it’s worth it, but maybe in the middle of the war isn’t the time? I don’t know. Just do the next right thing, put one foot in front of the other, and trust that it all works out in the end. It is the only way.

I was thinking I would write about how being hysterical while living in a war zone is appropriate. How it is insane to expect sanity and calmness when there are bombs and guns all around, not for a day, or a week, but weeks or months or more. And yet here I am again managing (somewhat) to write what I trust is relatively sanely, and with relative calm. I guess it’s just a crazy ol’ world.

Something easy to pray for

Just a really quick update in case anyone was wondering. Youngest son made it home safely with the help of a soldier who helped out when he was short for bus fare, and a stranger who gave him a ride home from the bus stop (which is 5km away). Thank goodness for kindness and charity. Where would we be without it?

Youngest daughter was melting down and so was I. We ended up kind of curled up on the bed together, her head resting on my arm. After a while both of us felt a little better. Never underestimate the power of hugs, or any comforting physical contact.

We’ve had more rockets, so what else is new.

The U.N. (according to news I just read) is accusing Israel of war crimes. So what else is new?

I am somewhat overwhelmed by all the lies. All the f–king lies. Right now I could nuke the whole world.

Yeah, and you, going on week four of indiscriminate bombing, would be full of loving kindness I’m sure. Talking to those stupid voices in my head. Born of lies. All the f–king lies.

Going to watch a movie with my family, The Armericanization of Emily. I hope it is a good one. We could use the escape of a good movie. Uninterrupted by rockets. There is something easy to pray for.

Real life

Guns are really loud last night and today. I didn’t sleep well and woke up with a crappy attitude. I suppose that is to be expected. I had to be grumpy for too long before I was reminded that life is good. Some days are like that. The reminder included the fact that there might be a delightful treat in my near future. No more about that until/unless I know more.

My youngest son is stranded in Jerusalem, the bus he was to take didn’t show up. I’ve no idea what is up with that. They changed the schedule? I just don’t know. He doesn’t have a phone, which is more worrisome. He is supposed to have a phone of his own, but things keep coming up to put it off. And now he is alone in J’lem at the bus station, not knowing what to do to get home. I left a message with my brother, don’t know if he is there or can help. *sigh*

The big guns are not helping me to be calm and cope.

The Husband is on his way home now, he wanted to come home to talk about it before deciding to do anything to help our son. I suppose a case could be made, but I would really rather he didn’t come the twenty minutes

***

They are home, and my brother is trying to find my son, and I am freaking out and I just can’t cope.